Editing your sequel – Step 2

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

Recently, I wrote about my experience in drafting the sequel to my debut science fiction novel, Resistance (Divided Elements #1)and promised to share my upcoming experiences in editing said sequel. Last week was Step 1 – Reviewing Book 1. Which brings us to Step 2 – Seeing your strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of your readers.



You’re probably champing at the bit to actually rip into your draft manuscript, but trust me – it still needs more resting time. Going back in to a work in progress too soon after typing ‘the end’ can be like trying to reflect on a relationship a week after the break-up: All you’re going to get are hot, messy tears or a rose-tinted view of the belle epoque (neither of which are helpful).

If you’re like me, you’ll be spending this time working on completely unrelated projects – the half-drafted Nano project from two years back that you’ve been holding out on, various short stories for upcoming competitions, beta reading for crit partners, etc. If you’re not doing these things, you should seriously consider them. At the very least, bury yourself in an amazing book that can act as you ‘palate cleanser’, benchmark and inspiration when it finally comes time to review your own novel.

So, while waiting for our WIPs to get to room temperature, it’s time to kick off Step 2 – Seing your work like your readers do.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the challenges and advantages of writing Book 2. One of the advantages I neglected to mention was having the benefit of third party reviews – from crit partners, beta readers, ARC reviewers, and book reviewers.

Getting feedback about your writing style, your plotting, your characters, your world-building – it all adds up to a more refined blueprint for making your second book shine. When you write your first book, you send it off for publication not knowing how readers will respond or engage. With your second book, that uncertainty is not as all-encompassing.


For those of you playing along at home, this is what I did:

  1. Take out your notebook or open up a new word or excel document – anything you can divide a page into 2 columns. Title the first column “Positive” and the second column “Negative.”
  2. Go to the Amazon and Goodreads pages of Book 1.
  3. Take a deep breath (you’ll need it) and start by filtering for 1* and/or 2* reviews. If you’re lucky enough not to have these, start with your 3*.
  4. Ease the pain by looking for the good amongst the review – even ‘bad’ reviews usually have something positive to say. When you find something good, write it down in the “Positive column”. Where multiple readers raise the same thing, underline/highlight/bold the entry.
  5. If you have less than 100 reviews, repeat step 4 for all them. If you have more, consider doing a dip sample from each of the rating categories.
  6. Now go back and look for the negative points. Write them down – but maybe not verbatim. Bad reviews tend to be full of emotion. Strip that away and get to the core of what the review is telling you – e.g. “All humans have a ‘lifeline’ that plugs into things. All I could think of was [a] silly looking plug-in device. I actually giggled each time it was referenced or used even if it was a serious moment” (yes, that was written in the 1* review for Resistance. sigh.) becomes “lack of understanding about / poor characterisation of world-building technology “.


These lists of things – of what your readers loved/were fascinated by/engaged with and what they hated/were turned off by/didn’t understand – become your touchpoints as you edit. The entries become the red flags for things you need to either a) incorporate more strongly or b) consider removing/reframing.

Here’s a snapshot of my list to get you started:

·       Original world-building

·       Dark tone that built tension

·       Great character development

·       Thought-provoking

·       Too philosophical

·       Didn’t like the main character

·       Didn’t understand the technology or mechanics of population control


Interestingly, of the three negative points listed, I’ll only address one: the lack of understanding about the world-building mechanics. The other two – character likeability and philosophical bent – won’t change. And that’s the thing with reviews – sometimes they just come from readers who didn’t like your book and not because your book was poorly written.

Remember, you’re not trying to please everyone. You want to engage the readers who want to love your story. Remove the obstacles for that love, but don’t try to write the book they wish they could have written.

What about you? What critiques or reviews have been left about your first book that you will incorporating in your Book 2 edits? Let me know in the comments!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash




You can grab your own copy of Resistance (Divided Elements #1) to read now. Available as a paperback or ebook on your favourite device. Just click to start reading!



Editing your sequel – Step 2

Resistance (Divided Elements #1)

The day has finally arrived! My speculative fiction / dystopian novel Resistance (Divided Elements #1) is now available for purchase!


To celebrate, I want to share with you some of my favourite excerpts from the reviews I have been getting on Goodreads. It has been such a beautiful and humbling experience to hear what readers have to say after finishing Resistance. Enjoy!

“A whirlwind cross between Fahrenheit 451 and Divergent. This novel grabs your attention and keeps it locked in place for 34 chapters.”

“Resistance isn’t like other dystopian novels you’ve read.”

“I couldn’t put this book down. Or I didn’t want to put this book down because I had to put it down many different times throughout the day and each time, I was incredibly disappointed that I wasn’t in the middle of the action of the book. I needed to know what was happening next and if I wasn’t experiencing it, I wanted to be.”

“This was an amazing book. A fantastic book. Something that I would read again in a heartbeat (and probably will, once I’m done with the next book on my list). Any book that makes me want to read it again and again to absorb everything it’s made of is something rare and I don’t think it’s going to happen more than a handful of times in the next year.”

“At first, you might think this is your typical dystopian future civilization YA novel. And you’re kind of right. But you’re also kind of wrong.”

“I would highly recommend this novel to fans of dystopian fiction such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. The novel also reminded me of the video games République and the post-Paris cyberpunk adventure,Remember Me in setting and tone. But none of these other works do the novel justice: in Resistance, Indie author Mikhaeyla Kopievsky manages to create fresh and new dystopia worth exploring.”

“I’m excited to see where Divided Elements goes from here. It’s definitely a series to keep an eye on. If you’re looking a dystopian novel that’s original and entertaining, no look further.”

“I freakin loved this book!”

“I loved this as a first book in the series. I really hope that the rest of the series would be as amazing. I can’t wait for the next book to come out!!!”

“This is a delightfully complex story and I enjoyed immersing myself in this richly detailed otherworld.”

“This book. Is. Awesome. It’s Divergent’s bigger, badder, tougher, realer older sister. So much more than your basic dystopian fill-in-the-blanks, Resistance has amazing, almost magical worldbuilding.”

“I was attracted to this book by its cover and for once I was not disappointed.”

“This is probably one of only a handful of sci-fi books that I have read and liked. The plot is engaging and a one of a kind story that is fresh and interesting.”

“This was an interesting and quite quirky dystopian science fiction novel in which the author shows alot of flair and heavy doses of imagination.”

“I loved Resistance! It was well written, the characters were amazing and the story was awesome.”

Resistance (Divided Elements #1)

Supporting Indie Authors

Indie authors don’t have the benefit of corporate machines behind them to generate awareness and excitement about their works, which is why reviews and recommendations from readers are so important for generating the kind of exposure that can lead to sales.

Recently, I wrote about the importance of community for indie authors and self-publishers. To practice what I preach and engage more fully within this community, I recently set up an account with Booklikes. 

Booklikes is pretty much the blog version of Goodreads – a place where you can discuss the books you love and hate in detail.

My Booklikes blog – pen, ink and pixels – is dedicated to reviewing the indie and self-published books that inspire, engage and challenge me. It is part karma-generator (giving back to the indie community that I love and that supports me) and part journal of discovery (a commitment to proactively seeking out indie books to read and enjoy).

I’ve just posted my first review – discussing my reaction to eden Hudson’s “How to Kill Yourself in a Small Town” – a book with great characters and a light, youth-with-attitude touch (despite the ominous title). Every seven reviews, I’ll post a summary here on my [w]rite of passage blog in celebration of the joys of reading great fiction.

I hope it inspires and encourages you to seek out your own indie masterpieces and share the love by writing your own review or recommendation…

Supporting Indie Authors